June 1st, 2012 17:17 EST
BOOK REVIEW: This Girl Is Different by JJ Johnson
MY RATING: *** ½ (out of * * * *)
BRIEF SYNOPSIS (spoiler free): An idealistic homeschooled girl decides to experience public school for her senior year, initiating a counter-cultural revolution. Her challenge to the school becomes a challenge for herself.
PROS: This girl IS different! Protagonist is exceptional role model for teens. Atypical teen girl; atypical hero. Thoughtful and thought provoking, a joy to read. Authentic and endearing characters-- both teen and adults. Interesting and positive exploration of social and personal responsibility. Challenges conventional conceptions of the Institution of School. And thankfully, the main character and her boyfriend did not [redacted] (no spoilers!).
Story included insightful quotes at the beginning of each chapter that actually fit into the story; both as an element of narrative, and as a meta plot indicator. A refreshing alternative to Young Adult literature glutted by paranormal romances and dystopias. I wish there were more YA books as socially conscious and inspiring.
CONS: Honestly, there isn`t much I dislike about this book. My major complaint is that, for all the insistence of "this girl is different", there is one aspect in which she was disappointingly like almost every other hetero-sexual girl: coocoo for cocoa puffs about a boy, and then making out with him repeatedly. The girl/ boy dynamic would have been more powerful without sexualizing. But at least the boy doesn`t become her life.
Also, more attention could have been given to the nature of public education and its relationship with youth. I would have appreciated more commentary on social media and entertainment media, which only get passing critique.
RECOMMENDATION: If you have not read this book yet, put it on your reading list NOW. And read it. I`m eager for the sequel (scheduled for a 2012 Fall release).